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As many of you may know already, I went on an adventure this past August. I spent a week in Scotland. While I did do some normal touristy things, a good portion of the trip was going where I needed to go.

For my entire life, I’ve always yearned to go home to Scotland. Where this came from, I didn’t know. The music, the history, the very land called to me as sure as the south calls to birds during the fall. I went in hopes of finding the one spot that my soul yearned to go back to.

I found three.

One of them was outside of the town of Rosemarkie, on Black Isle. This is just slightly north of Inverness, across the Moray Firth. It’s not a big touristy spot, but well worth going to.

The name and the photos appealed to both me and my traveling companion, Tara. After doing a dolphin tour (yes! baby dolphins!), lunch, and a few other unexpected stops, we made it to the head of the trail.

It wasn’t even five minutes into the hike when I turned to her and said, “I can’t stop smiling!” And I couldn’t. I’d found the second place that called to me, and the first that was unexpected.

The entire hike was exhilarating. Not in the sense that it was a hard hike but the energy that surrounded me, seeped into my pores and invigorated my very soul. The Wiccan part of me was home. My soul danced with joy. My cares, worries, and stresses melted away. And I let myself hear what the woods were telling me.

Then, we came to the end of the trail and found this:

FG 11 BI 8.13

I sat on a rock and closed my eyes, opening myself up to the sounds around me. The rushing water, changing tone as it moved downstream. The light rustle of leaves being moved by the wind. The smell of damp earth. The feeling of being welcomed, and at peace.

As we headed back out, I heard music. Not just any music, but something that bordered on magical. I turned to Tara and asked, “Do you hear that?” I needed confirmation that I wasn’t the only one who could hear it. That it was in the air was not in doubt. Simply if I was the only one meant to hear it, and heed its’ call.

She nodded. She heard it as well. It would stop for a time, then start up again, as we hiked out. Eventually, we caught up with a pair of hikers. She had been playing traditional Scottish and Irish music on a fife as she and her companion walked. We thanked her for the music, as it was the perfect accompaniment to the afternoon.

We got back to the car park, and I leaned against the driver’s side door. Looking back to the trailhead, I said a silent thank you for all creatures. Both the visible and unseen. For they had welcomed me home as a kindred spirit. I had been found, but I was never truly lost.



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This isn’t going to be a nice post. It’s going to be raw. It’s possibly going to hurt you as much as it does me to write. But the time for silence has ended. What is said here, shared here, needs to be said and shared.

I believe women and men when they say they’ve been assaulted. I understand exactly why they don’t come forward for 30 years. Because I have my own story to share about being assaulted and staying silent.

If you don’t want to read any further, I understand. May you find solace in your own way.

It started when I was 8. A neighbor boy (brother to my best friend at the time) had spent some time with other family and came back, saying he learned a new game. He wanted all of us to play.

At the time, there were around 7 in the neighborhood gang. 3 boys, 4 girls. Ages were 7-10 or 11. He was the oldest.

The next two years were filled with him grooming us to his whims. Him teaching the other boys how to do the same. Touching, molestation, and rape. I remember one time when he said that sometimes ‘boys just need to do this’. With no care about me whatsoever.

My sister (older) broke free of the situation, tried to talk to our parents. She was called a slut and whore, and that we didn’t talk about the neighbors that way.

I tried to break free. He threatened me, blackmailed me. Said he’d kill my cats, or tell my parents I’d done things to him.

One day, he threatened to rape me on our front lawn if I didn’t let him in the house so he could do so on my bed. That’s the day I tried to tell my parents.

My mom, on the phone, told me I had to ‘calm down’ and stop overreacting so I didn’t frighten a younger cousin who was staying with us. That night, my dad walked across the street to talk to the father of the boy. All I know was that he came back and told me I was never to have anything to do with that family again.

It was never reported to the police. Because it wouldn’t look good on our family name.

I hid within myself for another 30 years. I ignored what I wanted, tried to please everyone else, so they wouldn’t hurt me for saying no. I pushed aside my own hopes and dreams and stayed numb, certain that I was damaged goods.

I met my husband while I was in therapy (again). He loves me for who I am, even with the days where I’m out of sorts and can’t explain why. Even when there’s days when I don’t want my own skin touching me.

Ten years ago, I started to write. There’s a lot of me in my characters. I put them through the same sort of hell I lived. Why?

Because I draw strength from theirs. If they can get out and be a survivor, so can I. I know, because I heal myself as I heal them through the words I write.

Almost 2 years ago, my youngest was assaulted. During a class where the lecture was on consent, of all things. I was guided by them as to charges, etc. They were stronger than I ever was, ready to testify in court. The decision, every step of the way, was theirs. The miscreant pled out, and our youngest has moved on.

It’s easier for them because they got to see the legal system believe them. They saw parents and staff around them take immediate action.

So, yeah, for some of us it does take 30+ years. Because we weren’t believed then. Because we were made to believe we were to blame in some way. That ‘boys will be boys’.

That’s bullshit.

I believe Dr. Ford. I believe Ms. Anita Hill. I believe every single story of survival I hear. Because I know the pain of not being believed.


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Happy Saturday everyone!

I’m working on a new project while I plot out the next Waystation Guardians book in my head. I’m joining this century and importing all of our cds to our iTunes accounts. After that’s done, it’s purging the physical discs time.

We’ve got around 400 cds, so this is not a quick project. LOL

I’ve been processing everything I experienced on my trip to Scotland. When you go to a place that you’ve always wanted to go to….when you make connections to a land and culture that transcends lifetimes and imprints your soul….it takes time to really understand and articulate it all.

One thing I’ve come back with is a new sense of the global society we’re all part of. It’s beyond having pride in your nation. It’s the idea that there’s countries….ideals….people outside the borders you’ve grown up in.

I’ve spent my entire life in the western US. Outside of a few vacations in Canada, that’s been it. For 50 years, the only real concept I had of the world was that it was a huge place and my country was big.

Heck, Washington state is larger than some countries in Europe.

While I was in Scotland, I grew into a more global citizen. It wasn’t all about me or the US. It was seeing how the rest of the world saw things, related to each other.

I met people who regularly made trips to other countries for the weekend to enjoy a hobby. The same hobby that, here, I could do just as many events over the summer and never leave the state.

I met people who got that I was a tourist, driving under new rules, and were happy to give me pointers (parking places are wonderful things on single track roads, but you gotta use them the right way).

I found out that citizens were okay with their government saying they believed in climate change and banning gasoline powered engines (all new cars sold were to be hybrids or electric) because they wanted to preserve the earth around them.

I discovered that people still read. A lot. That libraries, books, bookstores, and knowledge isn’t frowned upon. People spoke in complete sentences, without a lot of slang.

I heard more languages being spoken in the breakfast area of my B&B in Inverness than I did in a year around Seattle.

I met people who didn’t hesitate to follow their dreams, take the trip they’ve always wanted to do. That didn’t believe in waiting for ‘the perfect time’. Who realized travel has an impact on us beyond the money spent and the souvenirs we bring home.

I realized, deep down, that this earth we all share is connected in a way that border walls, oceans, customs kiosks, and guards can’t separate.

Will I travel overseas more? I don’t know. I’d like to, but there’s places in the US I’d like to see. The trip I took taught me a lot. About myself, how I fit into the world, and that the best way to interact with other cultures isn’t from behind a computer screen.

We need to experience life to write about it, after all.


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Happy September everyone!

I’m someone who adores the fall. Yes, I’m drinking pumpkin spice coffee already. LOL. Give me days with crisp air, leaves on the ground, and cozy sweaters! I bought myself a sweater while in Scotland that I plan to practically live in for the next six months.

To celebrate the coming change, I have a guest today! Please welcome author and friend, Cyn Ley!

Hi KateMarie! Thank you for the opportunity of visiting with you today!

What genres do you write?

 I write multi-genre—short stories mainly, but am venturing into longer works. Paranormal, horror, social satire, humor, scifi light, general fiction, and stuff that’s rather odd. I’m currently working on the second installment of a new cozy mystery series, the first having debuted in PINK FLAMINGOS & OTHER FOLLIES (It’s A Mystery I: The Lost Boys). I also have several new short stories in the works.

Tell us about your books!

I’m delighted to say that I am a top-reviewed author on Amazon for all of my titles. Never saw that coming! LOL

There are currently three available in print and Kindle editions, and one short which is available on Kindle only. The first book, ENCOUNTERS TALES RECOUNTED AND REBORN has the best of the stories published between 2014 – 2016, and ranges all across my spectrum, including several written for other Solstice Publishing anthologies. There are 20 stories in all. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MUYCFBC


The second, THE OSSUARY PLAYGROUND AND OTHER TALES, has a special place in my heart. Published in 2017, I was living very close to the Veil, my Beloved Husband having brushed through it a few months earlier.  I wanted to explore the Afterlife as I’ve experienced it, seeing it from the Other Side as well as this one.  Consisting of four stories, the book has been described as “literary fiction,” and contains some of my best writing to date, I think. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071JMBPZM

The Ossuary-001

Next came PLOT TWIST, a weird and funny tale about what happens when a demon on assignment shows up at a science fiction convention.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078YC35LX

plot twist dna-001

After THE OSSUARY PLAYGROUND, which is fairly intense reading, I felt I needed to lighten things up a bit as well as introduce something entirely new to me. PINK FLAMINGOS & OTHER FOLLIES (2018) is funny, quirky and engaging, consisting of five tales. One of these, “It’s A Mystery I: The Lost Boys,” is the first installment of a cozy mystery series. I hope to release the second installment later this year. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BR15J71

pink flamingos-001

Favorite part of writing? Least favorite?

They’re actually the same thing: when my Muse whacks me upside the head at 2am and orders me to write stuff down. LOL Be that as it may, she’s always right!

 What’s your process? Do you outline or just let the story unfold as you write?

I don’t have a process per se. A lot of times stories come to me in bits, then build on themselves. I have yet to use an outline. For me, writing is very organic—it will happen where and when it wants to. While I’ll have an idea of where I want a story to go, sometimes the story has other ideas! I usually end up writing all kinds of alternatives. The story will shake itself out. Even if I Have A Clue where it’s going, those alternates are still important to write down. I might be able to use them at another time, and if they’re not written down, they’ll be lost forever.

Most surreal moment since you were published was?

It still is! Reading reviews of your work is always a little surreal. I love hearing from my readers, both good comments and not so good comments. I think it’s essential for authors to keep an open mind and learn from the feedback they receive, whether or not they like what they’re hearing. This is not to say one has to concede to the reader–after all, they’re not living in your head–but they can draw your attention to areas where you may need to tweak how you communicate your story.

Name three places you’d like to visit so you could incorporate them into a story/book.

 For me, it’s not so much places as it is things I’d like to do. Go ziplining. Take a helicopter trip over Mt. St. Helens. Visit places where the residents may be dead but are not sleeping. See a Sasquatch, and remember to bring fresh fruit with me as a gift. Stuff like that. As the saying goes, “Life is a banquet!” Maybe I’ll sit down and share an apple with a Bigfoot.

Thanks for stopping by, Cyn!

Readers, if you want to connect with Cyn, you can find her via social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CynthiaLey2@cynthialey2

Blog: https://authorcjl.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cleyfiction4/

A top reviewed author on Amazon, Cyn takes much of her inspiration from the part of the beautiful Pacific Northwest she calls home, where fire (the active volcanoes) and water (the many rivers and the Pacific Ocean) actually do mix. Among her many interests are history, embroidery, folklore, and things that are generally rather strange.

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Hey everyone!

If you read my last post, you know I recently did something I can’t remember not wanting to do. I took a page from Bilbo Baggins and went on an adventure.

Today, I came home again at last. The plane ride happened last Friday. I’ve technically been home for almost a week. But I was still processing everything I saw and heard and experienced.

We’ve had sucky air quality around here, as it seems like half of the west coast is on fire. Today, though, the air has cleared to healthy levels. I was able to open the curtains and windows, inviting the outside in for the first time. And I started to clean the house.

Keep in mind, the air has had so much smoke and ash in it that they were advising against vacuuming or sweeping in your house, as it would kick up even more allergens/pollutants. The weeds in the yard are in dire need of decapitation, but they’ve got a short reprieve. Those will be mowed down tomorrow.

Anyway, I’m wandering off topic. I’m a writer. It happens. As I was cleaning, I started to put the last remnants of my trip away.

Jewelry came out of boxes (though those were saved) and put in my jewelry chest or where they needed to go. The Jacobite Rose pin went on the green merino wool sweater, which is where I plan on always wearing it. The compression bags were refolded and put in their box. The suitcases were put back together.

And two packages, with gifts for family or friends not nearby, were sent off.

Scotland’s never going to leave me. The experience of going, of daring to do something I’d always wanted to do, will forever live in me. Even now, wearing the necklace with a bit of moss from Culloden, the contentment I gained…the peace in my soul….is still there.

By putting things away, sending them to their new homes, I’ve finished the process of coming home again.

Isn’t that what going on an adventure is all about? Finding your way back home?

BBCastle MacDuff 2 8.14

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Hey everyone!

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted here. As per normal, life happened. This was a good thing, though.

I’ve touched on this before, how the last 2 -3 years of my life have been chaotic. Too many things to list, and most weren’t good. Death came to visit far more than anyone should have to deal with. There were other things, too, that drove me even deeper down the rabbit hole.

I’d climb out some, start to feel normal again, and have something else come up.

In mid June, my husband looked at me and told me I needed something to look forward to. Something that would be a boost to my soul. At his recommendation, the next day I booked airfare for a trip I’d wanted to take longer than I could remember.

I was going to Scotland.

The trip was last week. I just got home on Friday. I’m still readjusting to this time zone. LOL. But my soul found three separate places it called home. Three places where I made a profound, deep connection that stretched back hundreds of years. And I returned home with a sense of peace, of contentment, of wholeness, that I’ve never felt before in this turn of the Wheel.

‘Guarding William’, the 3rd book in The Waystation Guardians series, came out right as I left. I also took books with me, to leave in hotels and B&Bs as thank you gifts. The B&B host in Inverness now plans to put my photo on the wall in the room I had, along with the caption of ‘American Author KateMarie Collins slept here!’. A restaurant, Hootananny’s, suggested I put a version of their beef stew in a book. Which I fully intend on having characters eat, should the manager actually send me the recipe (yes, it was THAT good!). A restored 14th c castle B&B I spent one night in plans to leave them in the Great Room, for future guests to read.

I found myself. And I may have found a few readers along the way. In going home, I’ve rediscovered myself. I’ve made peace with the chaos, and am armed with a renewed sense of direction.

Watch out, world. You tried to push me back down, and almost succeeded. But I’ve reconnected with that stubborn Scottish streak in me. I will find my readers.

If you’re wondering about ‘Guarding William’, here’s the link: mybook.to/guardingwilliam


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Hey everyone!

No, I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth. Life has been, well, life.

One of the things I’ve found most interesting lately is the whole ‘cockygate’ situation. You know what it breaks down to? Someone who was so totally insecure about their own writing that they chose to not do the work necessary to reach the level they wanted and they decided to exert authority in a really bad way.

Authors are not privileged in that we own fonts. We don’t own words that have been around for centuries. And we don’t own readers.


Stop leaving bad reviews because you think someone ‘slighted’ another author you know. Don’t plagiarize other authors works. Don’t go full on diva and claim you know what it takes if you’re not willing to listen to the people who do.

In other words, check your privilege at the door.

This industry has a camaraderie to it that I’ve never found anywhere else. I’m not competing with any other author but myself. I only need to make the next story more interesting. I don’t have to hoard readers. I don’t want them to defend me by slandering other authors.

You want to write a book about Charon? Go for it! I DON’T OWN THE MYTHOLOGY!!!

What I own is my own behavior, the worlds and stories that I have created. I don’t own the words I used to create them.

There’s been lots of books about Charon. There’s been main characters named Kate and Amber and Grace. There’s been dragons and elves and orcs.

You could read 30 books with ‘Guarding’ in the title. You’d only think 2 of them were written by me, because I’m listed as author. The other 28 could be by other authors, who have a totally different voice than I do.

If you’re smart enough to read a book, then you’re smart enough to read who wrote it.

By the way….’Guarding Charon’ is at a lower price! Seriously, the series is a good one. I’m working on book 3. Honest!



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